New Compy, Pokemon Go, former EA CEO speaks on CNBC, Microsoft Good Times

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The new love of my life just arrived in Tempe 12 minutes ago, after traveling from one Chinese city to another, then to Japan, then to Indianapolis, and back to Phoenix.

She’s modest, just enough for my needs, and super-pretty, especially when back-lit. I’ll be playing in bed a lot more going forward. I’ll be playing WoW only since I’m dealing with cheap Intel integrated graphics on my first-ever laptop.

I want to unlock Lady Liadrin for Hearthstone. So, level a character to 20. I also like some of the Legion class changes, like Rift-style world events and open-tapping.  I’m actually kind of psyched for a WoW expansion for the first time since BC.  I just need a character to play it with.

My main reason for the new laptop is web programming for my game project, at the library and on the road. Analysts say the PC market is bouncing back in the second half of this year after a long decline, which is good news for PC gamers.


Pokemon Go


Everywhere I go, I see people playing Pokemon Go. Runkle wrote an excellent personal account today of the Pokemon Go experience.

CNBC analysts have been discussing the Pokemon Go phenomenon virtually all day every day this week. They are yammering about it right now, in fact.  John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity and former EA CEO was interviewed on CNBC early this morning.

Riccitello says to expect an ocean of Pokemon Go-like games, although “follow-on” games in situations like this rarely do as well, and he’s sure Nintendo will be developing this for years to come.

As of today, Pokemon Go is the most popular mobile game ever in the U.S.

I’ve said only Blizzard both understands and implements great characters, but Nintendo has clearly accomplished this feat.

Instead of streaming Hearthstone last night, pro streamer Reynad was discussing Pokemon Go characters. Blizzard’s Hearthstone characters have died into plain cards lately, flattened with familiarity, and no longer seem so alive.

Appropriately, investors are taking profits in Blizzard this week, in tandem with glaring bugs in the most recent Hearthstone patch.

Robbers in the U.S. are also taking profits from Pokemon Go players, who are showing up in remote locations with little defensive capability in their pajama pockets.


Weekly Stocks Commentary


Stocks are breaking out now, and after 18 months, I was finally there at the right time with my finger on the trigger. I’m up 3% in Tencent (TCEHY) and 6% in Kinder Morgan (KMI) after only one week, which were my blog picks in the last two weeks on technical breakouts.

Blizzard and NVidia are breaking out to new highs. The Dow and S&P are breaking out. China (MCHI) is breaking out. Dow Transports and the Russell 2000 are also looking pretty good as classic confirmations, with CSX (railroad) reporting strong results yesterday.

There is a massive shortage of available equity in the U.S. and a massive amount of cash. Interest rates are near zero. Bond yields are low.  Gold and silver have had a huge spike, and they are looking much more toppy than stocks. It looks to this kitty like supply and demand are a wind in the sails for stocks right now.

Currencies, oil, Europe financials, and world politics remain big risks. There are far too many factors to even start discussing. It’s amusing to see market nerds in interviews and on Twitter yelling certain doom and protesting because they are in bonds and precious metals, and the market turned against them.

Microsoft (MSFT) has been extremely strong this week after notching deals with Facebook and General Electric. This is a very sharp up-move, outperforming the broad market. I’m holding Google, which is out of favor right now. I have $MSFT in VOO, my one ETF holding.

Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go‘s positivity for Google (maps and supporting tech) and Nintendo, but no one is talking about Microsoft’s focus on AR from the very beginning, with its Hololens. A smashing public success of AR in Pokemon Go probably augurs well for Microsoft’s vision.

Pokemon Go can also be a boost for wireless providers like Verizon due to insane data usage.

I’d like to say I’m done playing the investment game for a while, but I have a feeling Blizzard, NVidia, or both could get slammed on any earnings disappointment on 8/2 and 8/4, so we’ll just have to see. They are only large holdings because they are large winners.


LotRO All-Time Low, Gaming Stock All-Time Highs

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LotRO was affected by layoffs at Turbine this week, shrinking a small team even more. This was on the heels of an update to start the week, offering a new raid, many more housing hooks, and improved landscape visuals in classic areas of middle earth (see image).

The reactions to this update have been generally very favorable, judging by in-game chat and a shortage of complaints in the forums.

Speculation is rampant right now about LotRO’s future, so it’s best to just read the forum thread or the Massively article and comments. For now LotRO will continue, but the future of reaching Mordor is gloomier.

Turbine’s new DDO/LotRO double duty CM, Cordovan, had this to say in the forums this morning:

  • We appreciate everyone’s concerns for the team’s well-being, and know that folks have seen and read your thoughts. We aren’t able to comment specifically on personnel matters, especially when they come from business decision-making like this, but we would reiterate the part from yesterday’s official statement that Lord of the Rings Online will continue to operate as it does now. Additionally, we’d like you to know that our development plans remain unchanged.

So we’ll see.  I’m now at level 103 with my Warden main, maybe my favorite class ever in an MMO.


Video Game Stocks


This was a calm week following the Brexit chaos, with very strong manufacturing data (ISM number > 56) and jobs data for the U.S.. Weakness in oil and the British pound caused uncertainty, but some brief firming today (Friday) has the S&P index poised at the brink of all-time highs yet again.

If oil and currencies drop significantly over the weekend, we will almost surely reverse. We are also entering another earning season, and earnings will weigh heavily. This week analysts were saying this quarter will be a bottom for Apple (a former market leader), and to look to “dollar cost average” back into Apple stock going into the fall.

Analysts suggest the huge pain in the refiners (i.e. VLO, mentioned last week) is a canary in the coal mine for the economy, but this seems wrong since gas demand is strong, with record driving this summer. It’s more likely overcapacity (for reasons).

This week I was looking at GLU Mobile (GLUU), which is basing, having just released the Gordon Ramsey game with strong reviews and player enthusiasm, and having a strong cash position. They are also hiring heavily per their website.

The stock also seems to have huge insider buying in the last quarter, but I don’t understand the stock options. I do see a lot of GLUU buying by Tencent, the Chinese mobile game mega-corporation, which may get protectivist treatment from the recent Chinese game oversight regulations.

So I started looking at Tencent (TCEHY), which owns stakes in a lot of game companies as well as GLU Mobile and Blizzard. Tencent recently struck a big deal with ESPN, and is reporting strong results from the hookup. Disney (owner of ESPN) also has a Star Wars deal with Tencent.

Since I’ve given up on the Purefunds GAMR ETF as a way to diversify my investment in video games (due to extremely sketchy trading volume in that vehicle), I pushed a bit into Tencent instead on this big breakout day.

I also want more exposure to China, although the Chinese financial system is considered a ticking time bomb by some respected analysts, and a big cause of the big February selloff. The fears over Yuan currency, at least, are off the table lately, according to other analysts, and thus the calm and the market stability.

It’s not a good idea to buy on a big Friday up day, but Tencent is only at $23/share, after breaking out recently from $20, a resistance level dating back a year, then bouncing off of it. I see this stock having a lot of room to the upside, and I’m only in for “half”.

Other top gaming stock outperformers today, touching new highs, were Blizzard +2.2%, NVIDIA +3.9%, Electronic Arts +2.1%, Nintendo (NTDOY)  +10.2%. Nvidia, Intel, and Nintendo were specifically mentioned on CNBC this afternoon, Nintendo for the popularity of the new Pokemon Go.

As I reported last week, Overwatch is showing very strong momentum, but in general I don’t want to be speculating on individual game releases, hype, popularity, and sales. I’d need to be paid to make that amount of effort!

In the meantime, I’ll work overtime on my lousy low-paying job on a Saturday morning. Happy Friday!


Theme of the Week: Trolls

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I was actually trolled successfully in the LotRO forums this last week, which was depressing. I can’t even relate to the minds of low-class American society, and I’m glad.

In other troll news this week:

The Chinese government now insists on reviewing and approving every single mobile game sold in China, including simple updates. China has turned more protectionist recently, with a major court ruling against Apple in favor of some no-name Chinese phone manufacturer, for example.

A stock market commentary site opines that AMD’s new Polaris video cards are an “overhyped disaster”. I didn’t research this. I’m never buying another AMD card.

On Thursday Activision Blizzard (ATVI) stock was up 4.23%, and another .66% in the aftermarket, on the backs of praise and upgrades from Wall street analysts. Polygon reported this week that Overwatch is now the most popular game in Korean net cafes, taking the top spot from LOL.

Blizzard has also been in the news for striking deals with Facebook and Netflix. One has to be concerned about the future of its WoW movie franchise, but on the other hand, the expectations weren’t particularly high.

Blizzard continues to be the only game maker who both understands and is able to implement the power of great characters. The Overwatch characters especially are a hit with the Asian fans, or so I’ve heard.

According to some prominent game bloggers recently, Asian money is worthless to Blizzard, but for now those “underweight” investors will have to continue sucking lemons.

I visited Steam several times looking at games to buy the summer sale. I purchased Fallout 4 and Life Is Strange episodes 2-5.

Currently my characters are level 104, 103, and 99 in LotRO, so I’ll be due for a break soon. I finally have a “main” in my Warden. For the first time in a long time, I can just log in and do whatever with her, and feel satisfied with my play session, instead of feeling like I have to make ruthless progress.

I’m also doing a little multiboxing. I realized my LotRO multiboxing guide is not getting SEO on that search term (only dual-boxing), so I tried to tweak that. Here is a link, to possibly help with players who want to LotRO multibox.

This week a game developer announced a Tunnels and Trolls app, which will feature a support platform for people to make and share their own T&T modules. Unfortuntely I lost the link for this, can’t Google it either, and the main T&T website has no news on it, instead showing broken feeds.


Stock Commentary


All the Wall Street pros are extremely bearish and concerned right now about the market. I see grim faces. Big names like Alan Greenspan and George Soros are declaring certain doom. Literally no one thinks the market can go higher. Not possible. Even the bulls have thrown in the towel.

So this should be very interesting. The last time a big-name consensus declared almost certain doom was near the very bottom of the February correction. While many pros are feeling the doom, they nonetheless shoved money immediately into Nike when Nike dropped hard a few days ago.

One Nike (NKE) analyst says right now is the best entry point into Nike’s stock in the last 20 years. I’ll never buy Nike because video games. Duh.

Electronic Arts (EA) is also pushing for all-time highs in the last two days, after a consolidation phase of almost one year. It was about this place last July. If it breaks through, it’s a buy.

Of course, the same pattern is in place for a lot of stocks, and the entire U.S. market right now. So it’s hard to buy one stock on a breakout if the overall market fails.

An exception this week was Verizon (VZ), which dropped almost nowhere on Brexit, due to its big dividend, and broke out of long-term resistance to new highs instead. This is demand due to worldwide low interest rates.

I bought VZ on Monday at the bottom of the Brexit frenzy, with my stop at $54/share on the long term breakout, and so far it’s golden. It drops early every day, but just won’t go down. It just goes up.

The question in my mind is whether the smart money has sold (distributed) in recent weeks, and we have massive holdings now in “weak hands”. (Namely the buyers of the Brexit dip.) This could cause the market to drop massively and quickly. Or it could cause the market to go crazy, if it breaks north and the smart money is sitting there with their jaws hanging open, and their pockets dripping with all their cash on hand.

I could go on about record outflows in the last years and months, international dynamics of money flow relative to other countries, etc.


Current Ideas:


According to a report yesterday, the big hedge funds were buying mostly energy and materials in this last quarter.

Kinder Morgan (KMI). A few pros have mentioned liking this stock in the past week. Others have given up on it. It’s been stuck in a straight horizontal consolidation for four months. If it breaks to the northern latitude, it might be worth a shot with your stop on the top line of the consolidation band, of course.

Valero (VLO). One of my all-time favorites, this stock was pummeled today on news of a lawsuit in California, with accusations of gas price manipulation. This big selloff was met with solid buying through the day, however, forming another big bottom tail (candlestick.) This could be a bottom for Valero, because the news can’t be any worse. I’m looking for VLO to break out of its downtrend line before girding my loins, and who knows.

Pushed To The Back Burner:

Dow (DOW) is laying off a bunch of workers due to its Corning restructuring, and some say the time isn’t right to buy – better after the deal with Corning is complete. That’s going nowhere close to breaking out right now.

Visa (V) saw strong buying after Brexit, relative to the market, but lost a legal action late in the week, resulting in a 3.4% drop. Given that Visa also tends to trade with the currently treacherous financial sector, that’s also a no-touch for now. Very glad I was disciplined and sold several days ago.


Tribute To Juma

Jaguar Juma


Juma The Jaguar


I’d planned to blog again after Brexit, but on Monday a jaguar was killed during an Olympics torch ceremony in Brazil. I happened to be in the library on Monday, doing jaguar drawings for my video game project.

So I will name the jaguar in my game “Juma”, in tribute to the deceased jaguar. (Shown above is the “contact sheet” for my party companion portraits.) My setting is the classic, mythical Underworld, so it works.

This is a super-bad magic for the Rio Olympics, by the way. There are already reports of athletes being assaulted and robbed, on top of the Zika virus and contaminated waterways in Rio. The jaguar is a sacred animal.

It could be noted that the Greeks invented the Olympics, but they also invented the concept of human hubris. I’m really feeling my inner elf lately, feeling sorry for animals, plants, and crushed bugs. I’m not even sure why.


Summer Steam Sale


Tomorrow (Jun 23) supposedly kicks off the Steam Summer sale, according to reports. I’ve really been wanting some vampire, and I’m thinking again of a return to Elder Scrolls solely to get that fix.

That’s a lousy reason to re-install Elder Scrolls Online, but I heard they are revamping the game so you can wander and play any quest at any level. This surely means vampire blood is relatively easy to achieve.

Otherwise, I still need to pick up Fallout 4 and Black Ops. I’m kind of “meh” about games these days because I feel like I’ve already played them. Franchises might need to consider more continuous, connected storylines to keep players engaged. Oh wait – just make an MMO.

I feel like I’ve been there and done that with Fallout. I saw a picture of a “rad storm” on Tumblr yesterday that reminded me of the ash storms in Morrowind though, which was nice.


Video Game Stock News


This week is Brexit. A vote by the Brits to leave the EU will be cataclysmic by all accounts. This could snowball into more countries wanting to leave. The British pound is predicted to collapse.

The U.S. market is stuck now in a trading range, and until it breaks big either way, there is no reason to do anything.

This morning I saw a good buy point on Valero (VLO) (pullback to support after a solid 5-day breakout, although not on great volume). Once again I was too lazy and unaggressive to pull the trigger. Brexit in the next two days is scary. Venezuela is rioting. North Korea is firing illegal missiles. #WTF

Earlier this week I entered a position in CTrip (CTRP), the Chinese internet travel corp. This was featured in Barrons last week, suggesting a big upside. The stock popped, dropped agressively on sell-the-news action (?), and it’s been up since, like a little lifeboat for my barebones portfolio.

I’m still watching Visa (V) confirm my decision to dump it immediately on the reversal. I am also looking at Dow (DOW) wanting to break out of a two-year range. When AT&T (T) broke out recently, it went to the moon.

DOW (3.5%) doesn’t have quite the dividend as T (4.7%), but it has almost half the P/E ratio. This is an extremely high-demand time for dividend stocks. This is due to low or no interest rates around the world right now, sending utilities and telecoms to record high P/E ratios. It’s crazy what’s happening, actually.

I like the DOW CEO, and DOW also stands to benefit long-term from permanent lower oil prices, since DOW is a big plastics producer. If DOW catches a bid from the dividend yield collectors and breaks out, I’m in. I have nothing in my portfolio except tech and game stocks.

The U.S. Fed met last week and held interest rates steady, with the implication that they are throwing in the towel, and rates are staying lower a lot longer. It will be interesting to see what happens after Brexit, although I’ve already seen news outlets finding new topics beyond Brexit that could also spell doom.

Stay tuned, and here’s to you, Juma. Life is too short.


E3 Halftime, World Markets DIAF

DBEF ETF chart
According to recent polls, the chances of a Brexit, and thereby the EU possibly falling apart, increased to almost 50%. This and a China flop, a bolstered dollar, and dropping oil are all of the fear factors I mentioned in my last post.

The idea of Trump as president, combined with the Orlando massacre over the weekend, are punctuation marks on a feeling of terror that dragged the U.S. market down with Europe and China on Friday and Monday.

The hedged world large cap ETF that I follow, DBEF, reached a pivotal point on Friday, where a five-month uptrend met a one-year downtrend. The failure shown in the image is spectacular. I dumped Visa last Friday at break even, so I’m once again sitting on the sidelines, looking for a spot to buy.

NVidia was by far the strongest stock I was following today, soaring even more in the wake of an analyst upgrade believing in even more upside.

The CEO of Electronic Arts appeared on CNBC today. The highlights of the short interview:

  • Star Wars game for Sony’s VR headset. There are physiological design issues.
  • Three more Star Wars games coming for EA.
  • Microsoft’s new VR-focused console will drive more sales.
  • Things are awesome.

It should be noted that EA’s Star Wars games are all made by different game studios, published by EA. So it looks like they are throwing everyone and Uncle Joe at making Star Wars games, and therefore profit. This seems definitive for the ethics of EA.

So how can you bash Blizzard when you see the business tactics of EA and Bethesda?

I was excited to hear that Bethesda is doing a new Quake game next, but I was then devastated to hear it’s another arena style tournament game. Quake: Champions will be an arena game with tournaments and leagues. This is lame. This isn’t even Quake.

EA’s stock was down -1.4% today, on a day when it should have been sailing. Sony’s stock was punished even more for its big run up to E3, at -1.8%.

Blizzard showed relative strength today, and Intel was also a rare stock in the green with NVidia. Microsoft was beaten down -2.6% for its announcement that it is purchasing LinkedIn for a pricey 26.2 billion.

Microsoft is a little less of a gaming stock play now, and more of a corporate cloud ecosystem.


FIFA 17 Gets A Story Mode


Are you kidding, EA? Star Wars: Battlefront has no story, but FIFA soccer gets a story mode with a Mass Effect style dialogue wheel? Is this April 1st?

People wanted to see a little bit more beyond the pitch,” Senior producer Nick Channon says. “We looked at the game itself and where could we improve, and what could we add? And we felt it was a good time to add new major mode. We felt narrative story was something that had been missing.

I have to say that Battlefield I, set in WW1, looks fabulous. I love historical reproduction type games (like Mafia). It seems a little sacrilegious to turn a tragic world war into fun arena-style entertainment though.

In other news, DLC for games are now called “expansions.” And that’s all for this quickie excerpt from the recent news. Prayers and thoughts for the victims in Orlando and their families.